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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson warms up before Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
I know players are judged based on makes as well as the coaches that are working with them. It is easy to be seduced into getting a false sense of yourself as a player or coach based on the ball going in the basket or not. These days you can't go online anywhere without seeing the word process at lease 20 times a day. Its on more Hashtags than almost any other phrase.
For over 20 years I've seen players fall victim to a coach that waits for the ball to go in/out of the basket to correct the player. So many times I would see a player shooting in a training session their elbow being out and the ball go in the basket 4-5 times in a row as the coach claps his hands and encourages their player to shoot the exact same way. I forgot to add that just before that little run the coach was correcting their player's technique and wanted them to keep their elbow in as having their elbow out negatively impacted the shot.
Players rely on coaches to give them great unbiased feedback on their performance. We have to put them in position where we are giving them good techniques to work on and develop. It has to be understood that the techniques that we are teaching our players need to be clearly explained where they know 100% what is expected of them. We can't give them mixed signals and confuse them by changing the technique over and over.
The most important part of teaching a technique to a player is giving them Real Time Feedback. If I am working on a player's shot I correct them as the ball is going out of their hand. I want them to get feedback ASAP to understand what they did right and how it felt. Also what they didn't do correctly and how that felt. By waiting for the ball to go in or out of the basket it gives the player a false sense of where they are at. If it is shooting, footwork, floaters, post up, etc I want to give the player hat feedback so we can correct right away. NEVER COACH THEM BASED ON MAKES/MISSES.
The preparation in developing a player's specific skill(s) has to follow a protocol. You have to teach them the technique slow and with no defense/offensive player to deal with. Once they get the technique down you can add speed and there players to the situation. Once they develop the confidence to use the technique and get results in training sessions you need to communicate the expectation is to use it in a real game when the situation presents itself. When they start to use it in a game don't expect accuracy you just want them to build up the confidence to use it and know where and when to try it. Once they use it 80% of the times where they should try it then the next step is the expectation of accuracy. The end game here could take several weeks/months depending on what you are working on.
For example if I am working with a player on their floater, here are the steps in which I teach them. First I explain that the most important part of the floater is the trajectory. I want the ball to go straight up in the air so that if it hits the rim the bounce will go straight up in the air and give multiple hits on the rim. I'll go into the technique and hand placement giving the ball the best chance to have a straight up in the air trajectory. I'll then explain I want the shot released at the dotted foul line, but not any closer. I'll also say that they not want to shoot it outside the free throw line as that would be a pull up. The last thing I'd add is that they shouldn't be lunging forward or fading back. Straight up and down is the best scenario when releasing the ball to stay away from charges/offensive fouls.
When we start the training session I tell them that this is something new to them as well as a floater being a tough shot in the first place to not expect great results right out of the gate. I want to focus not on the ball going in or not but if their technique / trajectory is right. I tell them here are my expectations in order:
Get The Trajectory Straight Up on 80% or more of attempts With No Dribble
Slowly As we move ahead add 1 rhythm dribble to the floater
Continue To monitor The jump and make sure there are no lunges/fades
Add the second dribble again at a slower speed and start from 25 feet out to shoot the floater on the move to get rhythm
Add a live defender it the rim to try to go vertical and block the shot
Make 70% of shots in drill work
Add more speed to the no dribble, 1 dribble, and 2 dribble portion.
Attempt The Shot in games when the situation presents itself to use the shot
Start going forward with accuracy
I'm a big believer in two things in this Blog Post.... The first being don't coach Makes/Misses.... Second Is To Give Real Time Feedback.
If you teach proper technique to your players and communicate your expectations on when you would expect them to start increasing their accuracy with that specific skill your player's will respond. The goal in all of this is to teach them the skill and correct them when they don't do it correctly. You also need to praise them for doing it right and continue to communicate to them throughout the training session. It will be a struggle and you will have peaks and valleys in every skill that you are trying to change and/or develop.
Don't lie to your players and give them a false sense of where they are. Our job is to communicate to them and correct/teach. Once they understand proper technique and rep that technique out they will start to improve accuracy. They need to learn the technique of that skill inside and out. Once they continue to get better at the technique and understand where their mistakes are and how to self correct their accuracy will start to improve. Patience and restraint are such important factors with skill development.